As I stroll along the walking paths of the Noosa River it occurs to me that social distancing has been a huge positive for all the dogs that frequent this area with their humans for on lead walks.
If we practice social distancing properly it means that we can not stop and chat closely with other humans, this in turn means that dogs are not forced into on leash greetings.
But surely dogs need social activity, why would you want to stop them meeting other dogs?????
I do not want dogs to stop meeting other dogs. It IS important for most dogs to socialise with others of their species. The off leash beaches are a perfect venue for this sort of behaviour. Some dog parks also serve this purpose. Be careful though that all dogs in the dog parks are monitored by their humans. It is lovely for social dogs to have play dates or go to doggy day care.
You may notice the term off leash mentioned above. Dogs operate on the flight or fight behaviour response. While on leash the dog perceives their option to flee an uncomfortable situation is diminished or removed, the dog therefore, has other choices but most choose fight. More often then not, an actual fight will not occur but there will be some growling, teeth baring and air snapping. This is the dog communicating that they do not like meeting this other dog.
Dogs also find greeting another dog face on as confrontational and rude. Well socialised and balanced dogs will greet another dog by approaching in an arc and usually start by sniffing the rear end. Being on lead and doing what the human demands changes all the dynamics of dog manners.
Young puppies who are startled or forced into on lead meetings can suffer enough stress in that one moment to give them a life long fear of walking on lead or even being near other dogs permanently.
As guardians for our dogs we need to start by learning canine communication. When we can read their body language, facial signals and behaviour we can understand when our dog is stressed or fearful. It is our duty to remove our dogs from stressful situations. Dogs who know that their human understands their needs will be more comfortable, confident, healthy and well behaved dogs.
FREE SCIENTIFICALLY RESEARCHED FACTS THAT WILL GIVE YOU A HAPPY, WELL BEHAVED DOG:
SNIFF WALKS – allow your dog to dictate the route of the walk and allow them to sniff as much as they like.
IF YOU WANT TO GET EXERCISE- get a gym membership, not a dog
DON’T USE COLLARS, GET A T SHAPED HARNESS- collars cause irreparable damage to dogs necks.
MORE FREE RUNS – less structured on lead walks.
SOCIAL DISTANCING DOES NOT JUST APPLY TO HUMANS